Counter Claims On Home Affairs’ SMS Service

PERMANENT secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration, Patrick Nandago says the company claiming that its concept of an SMS service was given to a rival company by the ministry is “free to take the matter further”.

“If they have money to waste let them go ahead. Let them be our guests,” Nandago said in an interview.

In documents sent to The Namibian, Ethics Mobile Solutions claims it sent a proposal for an SMS line on 18 February 2013 to the ministry and is alleging that the idea “was stolen” by the ministry and given to a rival firm, Northgate Technologies.

Ethics Mobile said it proposed the mobile phonebased customer service in the form of text messages for applicants to directly inquire on the progress of their passport applications. This was meant to prevent people from outside Windhoek from travelling many kilometres to just inquire about their passport applications.

In some cases these would not be ready and the applicants incurred the costs of travelling back home and then come back to Windhoek for the same purpose some other time.

Ethics Mobile said to their surprise the ministry launched the same concept with Northgate Technologies on 12 March this year.

But Nandago said this claim was unfounded as Northgate had submitted its concept in 2011 and that the ministry became satisfied with the Northgate Technologies concept after a six-months trial period.

“It was not a stolen concept,” Nandago said.

Ethics Mobile claimed that it has referred the matter to its lawyers and says it will “definitely sue the ministry”.

“We will also engage the ACC to investigate the corrupt practices of these people,” the company said.

When the service was launched, home affairs minister Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana said in parliament that the SMS line was meant for applicants to inquire if their passports were ready for collection.

She said applications for passports submitted at regional offices generally take at least two weeks before they are sent to the head office for recording and further processing.

Nandago said the service has been well received but said it was not compulsory for all applicants but only for those who wish to be notified. “There is a cost element involved.”

Source : The Namibian